KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 4 ― Save Musang King Alliance (Samka) chairman Chang Yee Chin today questioned a Facebook post by former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak “exposing” him as DAP councilman at the Kajang City Council and asking why DAP is at the forefront of the durian farmers’ dispute in Pahang.
In a statement tonight, Chang said that he was born and raised in Raub, Pahang and educated at SJKC Sungai Lui and SMJK Chung Ching.
He said he resigned as a councilman in February because he wanted to cultivate his parent’s durian grove after their health had declined.
“A long time ago, my family was very poor and my father started exploring the Klau River at the urging of the government, and I am a second-generation settler. My family and I have tried many times to get land ownership but failed. We are still trying our best.
“After that, I worked in the city, and at that time, I got to know DAP. I joined the Dutamas branch of DAP because of its ideology. I was appointed to the Kajang council in 2018 because of my caring attitude towards the local community.
“I’m willing to lead this campaign not because I am a member of DAP, but my friends and I, whether Chinese or Malay, face the same problem: the government is conspiring with private corporations to seize what we have created with our sweat. My father’s hard work was eliminated in the blink of an eye, (and my) family’s life is at great risk,” he said in a statement today.
In a post today, Najib shared photos and Chang’s social media of him as the Balakong state assemblyman’s special officer in an effort to prove that DAP is behind the durian farmers’ resistance movement in Pahang.
He alleged that this is also the reason why Pakatan Harapan (PH) and DAP leaders including veteran Lim Kit Siang have intervened in the issue and urged the media to mention Chang’s DAP membership when reporting the issue.
“Lim said using the name ‘royal’ would give the perception that durian farmers are now against ‘royalty’ (royal family).
“This means that even if the Pahang government wants to negotiate, they are not negotiating with durian growers but negotiating with DAP.
“As long as it is highly politicised, it will be very hard for this issue to be resolved peacefully.
“I hope the local media will also start mentioning the relationship between the Samka chairman and DAP/PH when they report on the controversy of the Raub durian growers,” he said.
Chang said Najib had deliberately linked agricultural policy and land issues with racial issues to divert attention from the issue of alleged exploitation by private and government corporations.
He said the farmers are ready to pay compensation to the state government for the losses incurred and also share some of the profits from the durian production with the state.
“DS Najib has slandered me and other farmers by claiming that we are not willing to negotiate with the government. He is the one who is trying to politicise the issue.
“Maybe DS Najib is a busy person, or his PR team is not very professional, or they are not willing to take the time to research and understand this crisis or the demands of Samka.
“Since Samka was established, we have repeatedly emphasised our stand that farmers are always ready to work with the state government,” he said.
The land dispute in Raub made headlines after the state government sought to reclaim the land occupied by the farmers for large scale cultivation of Malaysia’s iconic Musang King durian variety.
The farmers cried foul, accusing the state authorities of unfair treatment in removing them from the lands they have been cultivating for decades now that the Musang King durian industry has become a money spinner.
However, Royal Pahang Durian Resources PKPP Sdn Bhd, the private company empowered by the Pahang government to engage with the farmers in a land legalisation scheme, insists it is offering a fair deal that will enable the planters to gain a decent profit.
The dispute then escalated into a legal battle between RPDR-PKPP and the farmers that have sought judicial review and won a court order halting eviction notices against them pending the hearing on their application on October 28.